Growing up in rural coastal Tasmania, my family was never far from the water. We were blessed with a beautiful natural environment and we wanted to take full advantage of it. Surfing, kayaking and sailing were common activities we all enjoyed and for many of my younger years the beach, being on the water or following Dad around looking at what seemed to be every yacht club and each and every yacht under construction seemed to be almost a regular weekend activity!
In the 1980s as a teenager my father, always one to tinker with things, embarked on his most ambitious project – building a 41ft cruising yacht from scratch! He had grown up in Hobart and was a keen sailor and former commercial fisherman so he was no stranger to boats but it was still a huge undertaking but one that we all enjoyed. It was around this time I experienced my first MS symptoms and we, the entire family it seemed, embarked on the huge challenge of building this yacht, personally, I was faced with the challenge of adjusting to ‘life with MS’.
It wasn’t always an easy road but throughout I’ve been fortunate to have the love and support of my wife Jane, my parents and our two beautiful daughters. Five years ago my father FINALLY completed the yacht. A labour of love (and much frustration) for almost 25 years. Now, it is complete I have be reintroduced to the world of sailing and have had the pleasure of introducing my two daughters – a new generation -to being on the water. We regularly spend time as a family on ‘Panumena’ (an Aboriginal name meaning ‘Ocean Voyage’) sailing around the beautiful coast of Tasmania and sometimes further afield.
My health as well is good. I’ve had my fair share of ups and downs over the last twenty five years but I am now fit and healthy and have gained some balance to life with MS. Still, I don’t take anything for granted and I always make a point of continuing to celebrate each and every day of good health. Which is why I am so excited about the Oceans of Hope journey. When I first heard of the Oceans of Hope Yacht I couldn’t contain my excitement and knew that if I was fortunate enough to be part of the journey it would be truly a once in a lifetime opportunity.
To know now that I will link up with others who like me have lived a life with MS and share a love for being on the water is so special and I just can’t wait to get started!
Andrew Potter, MS Australia National Advocacy Coordinator